- by Jeff Beck
Predicting The 90th Annual Academy Awards, Part 2: The Major Categories
This part will cover the eight major categories (Adapted Screenplay-Best Picture):
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Here we have another category that appears to be a lock. After winning the most critics’ awards for Adapted Screenplay (including Critics’ Choice), on top of the USC Scripter, WGA, and BAFTA Awards, it appears that James Ivory will be winning the Oscar for his outstanding screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name.” It appears to be the only award the film will win out of its four nominations, but I’m extremely happy that it will at least be getting something.
Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Original Screenplay remains one of two of the most hotly contested categories of the evening (the other being Best Picture). In order to go into the reason I think Martin McDonagh’s marvelous screenplay for “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” is going to win this category, I have to go ahead and spoil the big finish: It would appear that “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” is the favorite to win Best Picture, and given how Picture + Screenplay have been joined at the hip just about every year (with two minor exceptions) for about the last 15 years, it would appear to be an obvious award for it to pick up on its way to victory. The Academy has clearly shown us that they believe writing to be the single most important thing for a Best Picture winner to have nowadays, shown most clearly by when “Spotlight” won Best Picture and just ONE additional award: Best Original Screenplay (and also when “Argo,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “Moonlight” won Best Picture with just TWO additional Oscars, one of which was Adapted Screenplay).
You can also add on McDonagh’s major Golden Globe win for Best Screenplay and BAFTA win for Best Original Screenplay to further cement him as the lead contender for the Oscar. There are some who are predicting that a split will occur between Picture and Original Screenplay (where all the major contenders are), but this would appear to be because “Three Billboards” was not eligible for the Original Screenplay WGA Award due to their asinine rules, which led to it being given to “Get Out” instead. Subsequently this has led to a lot of confusion as to who the frontrunner is, but looking at what we know about Best Picture winners, luckily we can determine the most likely outcome even without the WGA’s help.
Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Leslie Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
My apologies in advance if the four acting categories end up sounding the exact same, for a rather extraordinary occurrence happened this year in that all four frontrunners ended up winning all four major awards leading up to the Oscars, an occurrence that I can’t recall having happened before. When the race first began, it appeared as though Laurie Metcalf was the one to beat for her amazing performance in “Lady Bird.” However, when it came to the major accolades, Allison Janney ended up with the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards for her incredible turn in “I, Tonya,” putting her front and center to win her first Oscar on her first nomination.
Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
When the Best Supporting Actor race first began, it looked as though Willem Dafoe was going to run away with the category for his ok turn in “The Florida Project” (let’s be honest, it was a fine performance, but hardly the best in the category). Luckily, things eventually started to swing Sam Rockwell’s way for his outstanding performance in “Three Billboards,” leading to him winning the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards, and making him the clear favorite to win his first Oscar on his first nomination.
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post
Here we have the same circumstance, with the only difference being that there wasn’t really any other frontrunner besides Frances McDormand for her brilliant performance in “Three Billboards.” This eventually culminated with her winning the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards, pretty much guaranteeing that she wins her second Oscar on the big night.
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
When this race started, it looked like young Timothee Chalamet was taking the lead with his incredible turn in “Call Me by Your Name,” but veteran Gary Oldman quickly took charge and began running away with almost all of the remaining accolades, including the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Awards, meaning that he will finally be receiving his long-deserved Oscar for his career-defining portrayal of Winston Churchill.
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Throughout the race, the director awards were split up pretty evenly between Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, and Greta Gerwig. However, when it came to the major honors, it was Del Toro who took the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and most importantly, the DGA. As most of you know, the winner of the DGA Feature Film Award has a 90%+ chance of winning the Oscar because that’s how often the two awards match up, and while I’m quite frankly surprised that Nolan hasn’t been running away with these awards for his brilliant work on “Dunkirk,” it looks like Del Toro remains the unstoppable force in this category for his work on “The Shape of Water.”
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
We come to it at last. It’s been a long, rocky road to get to this point, with Best Picture wins being spread out all over the place, and all of the main contenders missing something important, but I think we can say with at least some clarity that the big prize of the night appears to be going to Martin McDonagh’s outstanding “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” To explain why, I think it’s best perhaps to start by explaining why the other major contenders don’t appear to be in a position to take it.
Starting with Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” the film enjoyed an incredible run throughout the critics’ awards, winning a ton of awards for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. However, when it came to the major awards, a multitude of weaknesses began to show. For starters, the film failed to earn Golden Globe nods for Best Director or Best Screenplay, while also failing to earn BAFTA nods for Best Film and Best Director (Best Picture winners usually have all of these). On top of that, the film failed to win a single Golden Globe, SAG, or BAFTA Award, something that has never happened to a Best Picture winner from the start of the SAG Awards in 1995. To make matters worse, the film only received four Oscar nominations (a film hasn’t won with that few in decades) and didn’t even get a nod for Best Film Editing (with “Birdman” being an exception, this is very important). In short, “Get Out” winning Best Picture would be completely unprecedented.
“Lady Bird” also enjoyed a rather impressive awards run, winning several Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay awards. However, like with “Get Out,” a few weaknesses started to show once the big awards rolled around. While the film did manage to win Best Picture and Best Actress in the Comedy/Musical categories at the Golden Globes, the film failed to receive a Best Director nod there, and also failed to get Best Film and Best Director nods at the BAFTA Awards. There’s also the fact that it didn’t win a single SAG or BAFTA Award. In a similar setback to “Get Out,” the film only received five Oscar nominations (“The Departed” won with this many, but it won four out of five. “Lady Bird” is not favored to win any.) and didn’t get a nod for Best Film Editing. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely impossible for it to win, but it does look extremely unlikely given the strikes against it.
“The Shape of Water” has enjoyed a late surge of popularity thanks to its win with the Critics’ Choice, PGA, and the DGA, but what most people who are picking it for Best Picture seemingly don’t want to accept is that it has some major strikes against it that make it highly unlikely to win Best Picture. The primary reason that it seems to be out of the running is that it has absolutely no chance of winning Best Original Screenplay (it’s in fourth place at best), and as I’ve already explained, the Academy believes writing to be the single most important thing for a Best Picture winner to have. The second reason is that the film has no Best Cast nod from SAG, an incredibly important nod that all Best Picture winners have had for the last 20 years. To put these two stats into perspective, “La La Land” had the same two strikes against it last year, and while I felt certain it was going to be the one to overcome them, even a film as massively popular as it couldn’t do it (and it had won Critics’ Choice, PGA, and DGA as well). “The Shape of Water” is not even rated as high as “La La Land,” so it certainly doesn’t seem to be the one to pull off such an impossible feat.
Then there’s “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” which has been the reigning stats champ throughout the entire awards race. While it wasn’t exactly a popular choice for Best Picture with the critics, it did win a fair amount of Screenplay and Acting awards. However, when it came to the bigger awards, it really started racking up its major wins: Four Golden Globes (including Best Picture (Drama) and Best Screenplay), three SAG Awards (including Best Cast), and five BAFTA Awards (including Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Outstanding British Film). Keep in mind, this is on top of having all of the necessary Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations that a film needs to win Best Picture.
Looking at the BAFTAs by themselves for a minute, the last time they matched Picture and Screenplay was six years ago for “The Artist,” which easily went on to win the Best Picture Oscar. Secondly, BAFTA giving Best Film and British Film to the same film is extremely rare, having only occurred twice before this in the last 50 years. Those two films were “A Man for All Seasons” and “The King’s Speech,” both of which went on to become the big winner at the Oscars in their respective years.
The only reason anyone has had to doubt its dominance came when it shockingly failed to earn a nod for the Best Director Oscar, but as we saw just five years ago, “Argo” didn’t even need one to take the top prize, so in terms of which film has the least number of obstacles to overcome AND everything else that a film ultimately needs to win Best Picture, it would seem that “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” is far and away the obvious choice.
It’s an incredible film and very much deserving of the honor of being called the best film of 2017. After these last two years in which we’ve seen mediocre films take the top prize (“Spotlight” and “Moonlight”), it’ll be great to see the award go to a film that has actually earned the title. It’s also interesting to note that, if these predictions hold true, the awards will be pretty spread out:
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – 4 wins (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay)
The Shape of Water – 3 Wins (Best Director, Best Production Design, Best Original Score)
Dunkirk – 3 Wins (Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing)
Darkest Hour – 2 Wins (Best Actor, Best Makeup & Hair)
Blade Runner 2049 – 2 Wins (Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects)
Coco – 2 Wins (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song)
Call Me by Your Name – 1 Win (Best Adapted Screenplay)
I, Tonya – 1 Win (Best Supporting Actress)
Phantom Thread – 1 Win (Best Costume Design)
Of course, this leaves a few Best Picture nominees going home empty-handed (“Lady Bird,” “Get Out,” and “The Post”), but that’s what happens when you have so many.
While there are several categories that appear locked, there is still a lot of uncertainty around several contests, including Best Picture, so it’s certainly going to be a very interesting evening to be sure. Will there be any surprises like there were last year? We’ll just have to wait until the big night to find out. Be sure to check back on the evening of Sunday, March 4th to find out if your favorites won big.
In case you missed Part 1 of my predictions (The Minor Categories), you can check them out here.
Do you agree with these predictions? Who do you think will be winning in each category? Let us know in the comments below!
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.